Prince Harry visited Paignton Rugby Club in Devon yesterday to present the club with a Rugby Football Union (RFU) Legacy Gold Standard facilities award. Paignton RFC has benefited from being part of the RFU’s Lead Up and Legacy facilities investment programme and is a worthy recipient of this award, which recognises local clubs around the country making significant contributions to promoting rugby in their local communities.
During his visit, Prince Harry heard how Paignton RFC has developed modern facilities to support the growth of the club and its long-term sustainability, and how it is benefiting the local community. He also met with a few of the club’s volunteers, coaches and players, and watched training sessions of some of the Youth teams on the club’s pitches.
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director, explaining the idea behind the investment in social spaces said: “We want rugby clubs to remain an integral part of their local communities and improving their facilities is one way of achieving that aim. Over four years we’ve invested £10m in helping more than 520 clubs and this year we’ve helped them to improve their social spaces to encourage greater community use and to help attract new members.
“Paignton has delivered an excellent project through their commitment and hard work, and are already reaping the rewards. It is so good to be here today to see the difference that improving a club’s social space can really make.”
Before its renovation, the clubhouse at Paignton was very outdated and had not been improved since the 1980s. Along with a refurbished and extended bar area, new audio-visual equipment and soft furnishings make the clubhouse more appealing and welcoming to a wider variety of people. These new-look facilities have transformed the club environment and this is already translating into increased revenue through attracting more members, more events and external bookings, as well as creating the impetus for the club to improve other areas.
President of Paignton RFC, Norman Harries said: “As Club President I am truly honoured that the club has received this outstanding award. I am especially thankful to everyone who has volunteered their time, effort and financial support.
“To have received a visit from Prince Harry today is really the icing on the cake and it was a great day to mark a special project in the history of Paignton Rugby Club.”
Prince Harry also saw an example of how the RFU’s All Schools programme, of which he is Patron, is developing greater opportunities for young people to enjoy the game and heard about the club’s key role as a local hub for All Schools. He watched students from Paignton School, who only started playing rugby last year thanks to All Schools, being put through their paces by school and RFU coaches.
All Schools, supported by principal partner CBRE, aims to increase the number of secondary state schools playing rugby union. It is currently working with 400 schools, with the aim of extending the number to 750 by the time of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. All Schools supports state secondary schools over three years to help them start and sustain playing rugby union, with kit and equipment, coaching, volunteer training and links to local rugby clubs like Paignton RFC.
Article courtesy of England Rugby